Fire Risk Assessments (FRAs) should sit at the heart of your safety management system, yet so many company’s slip-up when it comes them. It is so easy to do and there are so many mistakes that can be made. Here are some of the most common ones…
– Treating the ‘filling in the form’ as the assessment itself.
Where FRA’s are required (and you employ 5 or more people) you are legally required to make a written record. But don’t let this fool you into thinking that the most important thing is the form itself. The key to a good assessment is about potential hazards and whether you have the right precautions in place to reduce risks. The form is simply the record that you have done this.
– Leaving out High-risk support activities
Most organisations cover in detail their fundamental operations e.g. production in a factory or construction on a building site. But it is really easy to leave out vital support activities such as transport, warehousing and maintenance. Since these involve hazards such as work at height and being hit by a vehicle, they could actually be the highest risks over everything.
Tip: place your attention on your greatest risks which may not necessarily be your ‘core activities’.
– Only considering ‘normal operation’
Assessments often assume that everything is operating as it should. but life’s not like that! Even in the best run organisations, problems can arise and you need to consider these eventualities. The requirement is to consider foreseeable risks as well as those of normal operation.
Tip: involves your employees in the risk assessment. They (probably better than anyone) can tell you what can go wrong as well as what happens when everything is running smoothly.
The main thing that causes outdated assessments is change. So If you bring in new equipment, a new process, or in anyway change what people do/how they are doing it, you should review your FRA. Some insurers also do not regard assessments as up-to-date unless they have at least been checked and then re-issued within the last two years.
Tip: review and revise when ever you can.
– Not telling the workforce
Many organisations asses, but then fail to tell their employees their findings as part of their safety management system. It is a actually a legal requirement to inform them of the outcomes. What hazards have you identified? What action do they need to take to keep themselves safe?
Tip: you could have the best safety management system and documented assessment, but if they are sitting in a folder in an office somewhere and your employees know nothing about them, you will be faulted for this.